The Eastern Cape Department of Health has been exempted from making an upfront lump sum payment in a medico-legal claim case. This ruling was made in the High Court in Bhisho on a judgment handed down by Judge Robert Griffiths.
The department was sued for R35.4-million after a baby developed cerebral palsy after birth at the Cecilia Makiwane Hospital.
The department used a public health or constitutional defence, arguing that paying huge amounts of money to one person crippled the department and resulted in some services not being offered.
The Eastern Cape health department has incurred more than 500 medico-legal claims during the 2017 and 2018 financial years. This year, it started with a R4.4 billion budget shortfall, as a result of these claims. Paying large sums of money towards medico-legal claims has been a nightmare for the department.
“We must say that we are very sorry about what happened to the child because we cannot run away from the fact that the child suffered from cerebral palsy while at Cecilia Makhiwane, we hope that the parent will understand that the department is fully capable of providing the care the child need,” says Spokesperson for Health MEC Mkhululi Ndamase.
However, some people feel they have been let down by the department. Nosipho, who is not using her real name, alleges that the Cecilia Makiwane hospital failed to write a proper report about a rape incident, involving her daughter last year.
“The department has failed because it never collected any evidence from a child…they just said there are bruises but they can’t let anyone get my child’s file for three months even the detective can’t get that file because the department has filed us because I can’t get justice for my child,” says Nosipho, Aggrieved Parent.
The department is planning to have rehabilitation centres in each district to support 43 cerebral palsy clinics. These centres will be at the Cecilia Makiwane, Frere, Nelson Mandela Academic and Dora Nginza Hospitals.